October 6, 2020

Edwina Patterson

Pronouns:She
School District:Lake Orion Community Schools
City:Oakland charter Township

How long have you lived in your district?

9 years

Have you received any endorsements?

Recommended by Lake Orion Education Association and the Michigan Education Association

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

My desire to become a school board member within our district started with my participation as a panelist discussing the experiences of diverse former and current students within our district. I saw a gap that needed to be filled and decided that I could bring a Diverse Voice of Intentionality in representing ALL students in pursuit of Academic Excellence within our Lake Orion Schools Board of Education. I have 26+ years of qualified experience in leading with organizational agility and optimizing performance of work teams. I have achieved academic excellence within my own personal journey and over the years garnered a strong passion for helping students extend themselves beyond their own self imposed limitations and rise to levels of educational excellence.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

Educational justice is ensuring equity in the educational experience of all the students within the district regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or learning ability. In our district, we must commit to learning from the missteps and inadequacies that have plagued our engagement in the past to build meaningful and mandatory diversity supported programming. We must ensure that there is clear documented processes and policies advocating for the mental, physical and social health of all the students within the district. We must hold each and every person accountable working with and around our students, to enact the policies and procedures outlined within the district as it relates to Diversity and Inclusion. We must have genuine care and concern for fostering a zero tolerance for injustice within our education system of any kind. We must ensure fair distribution across all the student population without implicit biases rendering and sowing discourse.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

After this public health crisis, students will be back in school growing through their learning journey together. There will be a heightened sensitivity to the criticality of crisis management . There will be a structured and comprehensive written plan to manage such a crisis when it arises again in the future. The schools should structure periodic drills at a set frequency to test readiness for pandemic/crisis management without incurring learning disruption.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

It is imperative that there is a voice from the community, from parents and from students to maintain sustainable SMART goals and resolutions for the health and success of the district. 1) There must remain honest engagement that maintains the board’s ability to make the most sound decisions for the district considering key inputs and data from the community. 2) Depending on the problem needing to be solved, feedback could come in the form of focus groups where key players from student groups, community partners and businesses are providing input and insights to help the board members make informed decisions.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

I have had support of my family and friends only.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

My top educational priorities/goals would be to continue to support the 1)Cultural Diversity and Inclusion Programming within the K-12 schools throughout the district. 2) Encourage curriculum enhancements and updates (focusing equally on College bound and non-college bound students) 3)Hiring and Retaining Qualified Diverse educators in K-12 schools to represent the demographics of the Total school to fill vacancies.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

The top 3 educational priorities/goals at the state level (although out of my control) could be ,1) Genuine efforts to maintain qualified Diversity Training and programming across the entire state for K-12 Schools 2) Ensure curriculum enables All of our students to feel empowered. 3) Ensure there is a roadmap to success in order to properly prepare our students at every level of education within the K-12 schools to achieve academic excellence to achieve their goals beyond high school. (college bound and non-college bound)

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

The learning patterns have been disrupted for our students due to COVID, we have been tested to see how well we can minimize the impact socially, mentally and physically. Our students have had some level of focus anxiety having to mix the need to learn with the desire for learning.
Our Lake Orion School district prepared us by being very effective in the need to Communicate, Communicate and Communicate !! Our district has maintained a professional level of detailed communication since the onset of this crisis. I anticipate a continued focus on providing the most effective instruction and academic integrity to minimize the impact to learning and growth. The key to maintaining the safety of students and staff is to follow the CDC and state guidelines with fierce discipline and unrelenting commitment to servicing our most precious commodity, Our children.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

Spending priorities in the district are met first with funding availability which has historically been low for most public schools overall in Michigan. Here are a few focus areas I would consider: 1) Continue with facility updates & repairs to ensure health and safety of staff and students in and around our campuses/ buildings.
2) Keep the funding maximized in nutritional support for our students in need within our K-12 schools. 3) Continued focus on identifying and executing efficiency gains within the operating budget that do not support effective growth in overall district performance . 4) Expand hiring and retention of qualified DIVERSE educators due to retirements and departures.
Notably: Since the budget is developed with many data points that support overall initiatives for a district’s sustainability model, what should not be prioritized would have to be a balanced assessment of needs vs. wants year over year.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

I have never been a fan of this testing and do not believe it properly represents the performance capability of students. Standardized testing is driven from a state and national level, so we have to ensure our students in Lake Orion Schools are prepared to perform at an accelerated level of competence. Top tier performance drives so many different indicators that contribute to our overall ratings and financial stability. Until something changes with how these tests are viewed on a state and national level, the role for standardized testing within our district should remain to PREPARE FOR OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE!

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum, what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

In making an impact to our Lake Orion Schools curriculum , I would say that our district has enjoyed being rated as one of the top performing schools in Michigan. This rating assures me that our current curriculum is robust. As a board member, I would only seek to ask that they add more diverse teachings (learning content) and resource reading materials to initiate dialogue that demonstrates cultural competence throughout the entire district. This addition would certainly optimize the overall learning and boost our rating performance.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

The mental and emotional health of our students and staff is paramount in ensuring they can assimilate and thrive . I believe the district has to ensure there are proper resources, contacts and straight forward accessibility that enables adequate support , privacy and follow up.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?

I sincerely believe that safety for both staff and students is a priority and has to be managed accordingly. Although I believe student discipline in schools is necessary, I also believe it must be handled equitably for the entire student population. There should not be any stereotypical assumptions that presents an unfair assessment and actions against any student. Accountability is key and must be measured across a platform of transparency and trust.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

The functional day to day operations is led and managed by the superintendent of schools, however, as a board member I would: 1)Continue to support the Lake Orion School District’s advanced initiatives to bring innovative solutions in the learning advancements of our special education students. Representing around 13% of our student population, there is a great pool of resources currently committed to ensuring academic excellence and performance.2) Continue to engage experts and resources that enable consistent growth physically, mentally and socially in support of the Whole child (student).
3) Keep a laser-like focus in creating and maintaining programming that allows for expansion and exposure in pursuit of continuity of learning and growth.
4) Continue to provide the best accessibility to the programs that will empower and encourage students through their learning journey. 5) Keep the pulse of the needs and wants of the parents of these unique and talented students by creating cultural surveys that gauges the effectiveness of current execution strategies.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

It’s takes the willingness and drive of the entire population of Lake Orion Schools to achieve equity within our district. We have parents and staff that may not fully agree on HOW to get there BUT as long as we agree that we must get there in some way, we can accomplish monumental changes . I believe in the spirit and heart of our community and I know we will move forward with intentionality and not shy away from hard discussions and hard actions to give our entire student body a feeling of being empowered and supported unconditionally. We are Dragon Proud!

Any other information you want to include or share?